The Perfect Sponge

Victoria Sponge

Butter is traditionally used to make an authentic Victoria sponge but make sure it is at room temperature before you start. You’ll notice a metal spoon is specified for folding in the flour. Why a metal spoon? Because its sharp thin edge cuts through the mixture with the minimum of air release. It’s important to retain as much as possible of the air that has been incorporated during the creaming process.


4 oz self-raising flour

4 oz butter

4 oz caster sugar

2 eggs, beaten


Pre-heat the oven to 190oC, gas mark 5. Grease and line two 7” sandwich tins. Sieve the flour into a bowl or onto a sheet of greaseproof paper.

Beat the butter, with an electric mixer or a wooden spoon, until soft. Add the sugar and continue to cream until you have a light, fluffy mixture.

Add the egg a little at a time. Beat well after each addition. If it looks as if it is curdling, add a spoonful of the sifted flour with the egg.

Using a metal spoon, add the rest of the flour, half at a time, folding gently, in a figure of eight movement.

Divide the mixture between the two tins and level the surfaces slightly.

Bake for 20 minutes or until well-risen and firm to the touch. Turn out of the tins and cool, topside up to avoid marks, on a wire rack.

For authenticity, sandwich together with jam and whipped cream. 

Chocolate Victoria Sponge

Replace 3 level tablespoons of the flour with the same quantity of cocoa. You can sieve this in with the flour, or mix it with a little water to make a thick paste that you beat into the creamed mixture before the flour is added.

Sandwich the cake together with chocolate butter cream, made by creaming together 3 oz butter, 6 oz sieved icing sugar, and a paste of 1 level tablespoon cocoa dissolved in a tablespoon of warm milk (allow to cool before adding to the mixture).

Add up to another tablespoon of milk if needed. Beat until the mixture is smooth in texture and colour.

The quantity given is enough to fill and cover the top of the cake. 

Genoese Sponge

Swiss rolls and gateaux are traditionally made with a Genoese whisked sponge mixture that contains very little fat. It is possible to make a completely fatless whisked sponge but you might find the texture a bit rubbery. Whisked sponges should be eaten as fresh as possible as they, particularly the fatless ones, don’t keep well.

Swiss Roll


3 oz self raising flour

3 eggs

3 oz caster sugar

1 oz butter


Preheat the oven to 180oC, gas mark 4. Grease and line a Swiss roll tin, taking care to make neat corners.

Sieve the flour onto a sheet of greaseproof paper or into a bowl. Melt the butter.

Whisk the eggs and sugar together in a bowl over a pan of hot water. An electric mixer is best for this. Keep whisking until you have a very thick, creamy mixture: you should be able to write your name in without it disappearing.

Fold in the flour with a metal spoon, and then fold in the butter thoroughly but gently.

Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for about 20 minutes or until firm and golden.

While the cake is cooking, prepare another piece of greaseproof paper, cut slightly larger than the Swiss roll and sprinkle all over with caster sugar. Warm some jam (to make it easy to spread).

When the cake is ready, turn it out onto the greaseproof paper. Trim off the edges then spread with the warmed jam. Starting with a short edge, and using the paper to help you, roll it up, pressing the first turn firmly to make it snug. You can roll the rest more lightly.

Sprinkle with caster sugar and leave to cool completely. 

Chocolate Swiss Roll

Ingredients and method as for the Genoese sponge but use 1 oz cocoa and ½ teaspoon baking powder in place of 1 oz flour.

Turn the cake out onto sugar-sprinkled greaseproof paper.

Trim the edges then instead of spreading it with jam, lay a tea-towel over it and roll it up.

When it is completely cold, unwind, remove the tea-towel and spread with chocolate butter cream.

For a Christmas log, cover all over with chocolate butter cream and fork ridges along it. Decorate with holly and a robin!


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